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France

US pushes France to pay Holocaust victims

The US wants compensation for Holocaust victims who were deported by the French rail company SNCF. The company deported 76,000 Jewish Europeans to concentration camps during the Nazi occupation of France.

The State Department on Wednesday confirmed that the US government is negotiating a deal with the French government, in which France would pay compensation for victims the SNCF deported to Nazi concentration camps.

"It is our mutual aim to conclude these talks as quickly as possible," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a press release.

Psaki called on state legislators in the US to refrain from taking action against the SNCF while bilateral negotiations were ongoing.

"Recent initiatives of certain state legislatures, such as New York and Maryland, have begun to pose a serious obstacle to achieving this goal," Psaki said. "We strongly urge all concerned to avoid actions that undermine the ongoing talks.

"The current American-French dialogue, in our view, represents the best means of reaching an agreement that will meet the concerns expressed by lawmakers in these states," she added.

Cog in the Nazi machine

Maryland lawmakers have introduced measures that would bar the SNCF from bidding on a $2.2-billion (1.5-billion-euro) light-rail line in the state unless the company compensates Holocaust victims. So far, the measures have not been put to a vote.

The SNCF has admitted to deporting 76,000 Jewish Europeans to concentration camps during the Nazi occupation of France. Only 3,000 of those deported survived, according to the state-owned rail company.

The company claims that it was "a cog in the Nazi extermination machine" and had no control over its operations during the German occupation.

Nevertheless, the SNCF has acknowledged guilt, and the French state paid out $6 billion in compensation, primarily to French victims of the Holocaust.

slk/rg (AP, AFP)

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